Students will embark on the first-ever two-day fall break this semester, taking place from Thursday to Sunday.
Student Government’s (SG) Senate passed a bill stating that students wanted a longer fall break and Thanksgiving break. Fall break used to just be one day, and the Thanksgiving holiday was only two days – the Thanksgiving Thursday and the day after.
A committee made up of SG, the Faculty Senate and the University of Miami’s Counseling Center was formed last spring to address an extension of this break.
“The Counseling Center had data that showed a significant uptick in the number of students who went in for counseling during fall break,” said Adam Orshan, SG press secretary. “Because of this data and the changing academic schedule, the committee recommended that fall break be extended.”
According to Ernesto Escoto, director of the Counseling Center, there was an increase in demand for services just last week, with 37 more crisis appointments than usual.
“The main idea behind fall break is for students to truly take a break,” he said. “Chronic levels of stress lead to high levels of cortisone and chronic levels of cortisone can be damaging to the brain.”
Cortisone is a chemical in the brain that is beneficial only in small doses, like when dealing with a fight or flight response, which happens when people get scared, for example.
After the fall break, Student Government plans to evaluate whether the extension was beneficial.
“Student Government will determine the success of extending fall break by talking to students and speaking with the Counseling Center to determine if the extra day is helping students,” Orshan said.
The Counseling Center will keep track of the amount of student appointments to determine whether the extended break was successful.
“We are hoping after fall break we see a sharp decrease in the need for urgent care appointments where students are stressed about academics,” Escoto said.
There are no plans to return to a one-day fall break.
The Counseling Center hopes that the extended fall break will be beneficial to students in several ways.
“Students that make use of the break are able to stay on top of work, take time off and let their bodies and minds regenerate,” Escoto said. “We need to take a break, that’s why we have weekends.”
Because of the extension, students will have the chance to make the most of their experiences.
Sophomore Andy Stockton plans to travel to New York City with members of the UM chapter of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) for the AES’s annual convention. He believes that this experience would not have been possible without a longer fall break.
“I’m going to the AES Convention to see the latest audio products and toys, see what the future of audio holds, meet a bunch of companies, experience New York and find out what career path I may want to go down,” he said.